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Smart Home

8 things you should do with Google Home right now

Ready to take your Google Home speaker to the next level? Start here.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Google Assistant is a powerful tool, with hundreds (if not thousands) of ways to use it. Built into every Google Home ( $69 at Walmart) speaker, it can help you around the house and deliver answers for pretty much any question you throw at it.

But if all you've done since getting a Google Home speaker is ask it to play music or turn on the lights, you're missing out. It's time to dive deeper into all the ways you can make Google Assistant on your Google Home work for you.

Order a pizza, lock your doors (not necessarily at the same time)

Google Assistant connects with many third party services so you can broaden its abilities. These integrations, called Google Assistant apps, can order you a pizza from Domino's, remotely start your compatible Mercedes car, or lock your doors if you have an August smart lock.

Want more? The list of Google Assistant apps goes on and on.

Now playing: Watch this: Google moves to make Assistant more accessible in the...

Go shopping without leaving the house

Out of milk? Need more shampoo? Want to order another Google Home speaker? Google Assistant can do it all. Once you set up your payment method, you can ask your Google Home to shop for you at Ulta, Target, Whole Foods, Costco, Walmart, Petsmart, Walgreens and many more stores.

Toothbrush timer

Sometimes the simplest tools are the best ones. If you usually rush through brushing your teeth (guilty), setting a tooth brushing timer is dead-simple way to make your dentist happy.

Sure, you can ask Google Assistant to "Set a timer for 2 minutes," but you can go one step further and set up your own custom command. Just say the magic phrase, like "OK Google, toothbrush time" and it starts the countdown to cleaner teeth.

Ditch your remote

Never again will you need to dig through Netflix with a remote to pick up where you left off on Wild Wild Country. With Google Home, you can turn on your TV and start playing movies and shows from Netflix, HBO, Google Play and YouTube.

Google Home also recognizes several playback commands for Netflix such as Pause, Stop and Start at the beginning. Just say the magic words and you get complete control over your TV.

Change Google Home's Voice


Routines set off several actions with one simple command.

Screenshot: Sarah Mitroff/CNET

If you're a bit tired of the standard voice of Google Assistant, you can change it! From the Google Assistant iOS or Android app, just head to Settings > Preferences > Assistant Voice. There you can pick from 8 different voices, some more robotic-sounding than others.

If none of them suite your tastes, keep your eye out for later this year when singer John Legend's voice will be one of the options.

Your new morning routine

Imagine that when you wake up, Google Assistant will tell you the events on your calendar, turn on the lights, and start making you coffee. You can do this right now with your Google Home.

You can set up a Routine, as Google calls it, in the Google Assistant app. You can select any of the 6 pre-installed Routines, such as "Good morning" or "Commuting to work," or create your own from scratch. They can do everything from play music and read your reminders, to turn on lights and smart switches, and adjust your smart thermostat temperature.

Now playing: Watch this: Automate your life with Google Routines

Give Google Home a makeover

While the Google Home Mini ( $25 at Walmart) comes in a variety of colors, the original Google Home speaker is clean, white and frankly lacking any personality.

Fortunately, it's easy to customize the speaker to better fit your decor or desires. You can swap out the grey base for official copper, black, or red options from Google. Don't like the white top part of the speaker? Cover it with a custom skin.

If you'd like to untether your Google Home from your wall outlet, you can easily install a portable battery pack for it. That lets you bring your Google Home speaker into the backyard to play music without running an extension cord.

Want more things you can do with Google Home? Here is every command you can use with it.

Can there only be one? Amazon Echo and Google Home go head to head.